Although 5000 calories may seem like enough food to facilitate weight gain, some people can eat this much and still not gain weight for multiple reasons.
Why would you not gain weight by eating 5000 calories per day? If you were truly eating 5000 calories per day and still not gaining weight it would be because you’re gaining muscle mass at the same rate that you’re losing fat, or that you’re burning calories at a fast enough rate to offset the 5000 calorie intake.
It could be that your 5000 calorie intake needs a slight tweak in order for you to see progress, or it could be that you need a strategic way to increase your calories further without being uncomfortable (i.e. stuffed from eating all the time).
After reading this article you’ll learn:
- If it’s possible to eat 5000 calories and not gain weight
- Why 5000 calories might not lead to weight gain
- How to make adjustments to actually gain weight
Is It Possible To Eat 5000 Calories & Not Gain Weight?
Yes, it is possible to eat 5000 calories and still not gain weight, in fact, many people have reported on online forums that they are eating this many calories and still not gaining weight.
Those eating this many calories in the pursuit of weight gain are saying:
“I’m being completely honest when I say I eat 5,000 calories a day. The reason I can do this is that I have an extremely fast metabolism. This basically means my body processes food a lot faster than most other people.“Quora User
“I’ve been eating 5000 calories a day for a few weeks now and I haven’t gained a single pound. Is there something wrong with me? Is it just my extremely fast metabolism?“Quora User
“4500-5000 calories are still not enough for me to gain weight. This is becoming frustrating!”Reddit User
Some common themes with these individuals were:
- Desperately wanting to gain weight but it seems impossible
- Struggling to eat more than they’re already eating
- Wondering what they’re doing wrong
There are multiple reasons why a person could eat 5000 calories and not gain weight, so if you’re struggling with the same issue then it’s worth diving deeper into what could be happening to prevent you from gaining.
Why Are You Not Gaining Weight Eating 5000 Calories? (5 Reasons)
The reasons why you could eat 5000 calories and not gain weight are:
- You’re Not Accounting For All Measures Of Progress
- You’re not Tracking Accurately
- You’re Doing Too Much Activity
- You Have A Substantial Amount of Muscle Mass
- You’re Not Consistent Long Enough To See Progress
1. You’re Not Accounting For All Measures Of Progress
If you’re not measuring progress in other ways apart from the scale then you may not notice that changes in your physique are occurring due to eating 5000 calories.
The scale is only one measure of progress and only shows you on a surface level how much you weigh, but what could be going unnoticed is the changes in your body composition due to increased muscle mass.
If you’re trading a pound of muscle for a pound of fat, then you would technically weigh the same but you would look completely different. This is much more likely to occur if you are engaging in strength training consistently.
It could very well be that the 5000 calorie intake is facilitating muscle growth, and therefore is resulting in progress despite the scale not changing. For this reason, it is important to take measurements and/or progress photos so that you are noticing changes in your body composition.
Gaining muscle while losing fat probably isn’t something that will last for long, but it is something to be appreciated while it lasts as most individuals would probably say that they would want to gain muscle mass without gaining body fat.
- Related Article: 5000 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)
2. You’re Not Tracking Accurately
If you’re not tracking your calories accurately because you’re simply estimating or entering foods into your food logging app incorrectly could make it seem like you’re eating 5000 when you actually aren’t.
If you’re making mistakes when tracking your food then it may appear as if you’re eating enough to facilitate muscle growth or weight gain when in fact you might not be eating enough to support these goals.
To be sure that you’re tracking accurately, make a point to weigh out all of your food to ensure that portion sizes are matching what you’re logging. In addition, verify that all of the pre-logged foods in the app that you are using are accurate.
By doing this, you can confidently say that you have been tracking accurately and that you have been eating 5000 calories.
- My favorite food log app is MacroFactor. Read my complete review and why I think it’s better than other apps like MyFitnessPal.
3. You’re Doing Too Much Activity
If you’re eating 5000 calories a day and still not seeing progress with muscle growth and/or weight gain then it could be that you’re doing too much activity, which wouldn’t allow you to be in a caloric surplus.
Even though 5000 calories sounds like a lot for some, if you are someone who is very active at work, in your personal life, and in the gym then you may be burning enough calories throughout the run of a day that 5000 calories are no longer a number of calories that would facilitate weight gain.
In order to gain weight, you have to eat more than your body needs so that these additional calories are stored as body fat or used to build muscle mass. If you are burning too many calories through physical activity then you may not have enough calories leftover to keep you in this surplus.
It is unlikely that strength training by itself would burn this many calories per day, but if you are engaging in cardiovascular activities and racking up lots of activity while at work on top of strength training, then you may be overdoing it.
I would suggest reducing your physical activity for at least 1 to 2 weeks by limiting cardiovascular activities and being mindful of any unnecessary activity that could be reduced.
If after 1 to 2 weeks you notice that you are gaining weight, you can determine if the reduced activity is something that you could maintain, or if it’s more worth increasing your calories further to support your normal activity levels.
4. You Have A Substantial Amount of Muscle Mass
If you are someone with a substantial amount of muscle mass then 5000 calories might not be enough calories to put you in a caloric surplus to facilitate weight gain or muscle growth.
Muscle mass costs your body more energy to fuel and maintain, therefore the more muscle that you have the more calories you burn per day, even while at rest.
So if you are someone with an exceptional amount of muscle then you may be burning enough calories per day to outweigh the 5000 calorie intake because your metabolism is so fast.
If this is the case, the best course of action is to increase your calories so that you are in fact in a calorie surplus.
This is best accomplished by increasing the amount of fat that you’re eating because fat is higher in calories but has a smaller serving size.
Fats are easier to add in without causing too much discomfort because they take up less space in your stomach, which is important if you’re struggling to get enough calories in. This could be accomplished by adding oil, peanut butter, nuts, cheese, or avocado to your meals and snacks.
Aside from increasing calories, you could also try to reduce your activity level if possible, as this would also reduce the number of calories that you need to add to gain weight.
- I also highly recommend you read my other article Can You Eat Sugar While Bulking because some of the tips in this article will also help you achieve a higher caloric surplus.
5. You’re Not Consistent Long Enough To See Progress
If you’re not consistently eating 5000 calories then you may not see progress because you’re not continually eating in a caloric surplus, which is necessary for weight gain.
If there are days when you are eating closer to 3000 calories and other days where you’re reaching the 5000 calories, then you might be only eating at maintenance.
For example, if it takes 7 days of 5000 calories to be in a surplus then this would be 35000 calories per week.
So, if you are eating 3000 two times per week and 5000 calories 5 days of the week, then you would only be reaching 31,000 so you would be 4,000 calories short of a surplus and therefore would not gain weight.
Consistency over time is important in order for calories to add up to a surplus and support your overall goal of gaining weight and/or muscle mass.
If you want a meal plan that facilitates a higher caloric surplus, then I recommend checking out our meal plan category. Simply scroll down and find a plan with 5000+ calories. We provide meal recommendations and macros to help facilitate your bulk.
If you want a more personalized approach to your nutrition plan, or you simply want to talk with a nutrition coach or registered dietitian, book a free 20-min consult to ask your specific questions.
Before you can say that 5000 calories aren’t resulting in the progress you’re looking for, you need to ensure that you’re not gaining muscle, that you’re tracking accurately, and that you’re being consistent. If all of these criteria are being met and you still aren’t progressing, you can reduce your physical activity or increase your calories using fat sources.
What To Read Next
- 10 Easy 1000 Calorie Meals
- Eating 4000 Calories A Day & Not Gaining Weight
- Eating 3000 Calories A Day And Not Gaining Weight
- 15 Cheap Bulking Carbs That Are Still Good For You
Westerterp, K.R. Daily physical activity as determined by age, body mass and energy balance. Eur J Appl Physiol 115, 1177–1184 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3135-7
Larson-Meyer, D.E., Krason, R.K. & Meyer, L.M. Weight Gain Recommendations for Athletes and Military Personnel: a Critical Review of the Evidence. Curr Nutr Rep 11, 225–239 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-022-00395-3
About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.
Why Trust Our Content
On Staff at FeastGood.com, we have Registered Dietitians, coaches with PhDs in Human Nutrition, and internationally ranked athletes who contribute to our editorial process. This includes research, writing, editing, fact-checking, and product testing/reviews. At a bare minimum, all authors must be certified nutrition coaches by either the National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sport Sciences Association, or Precision Nutrition. Learn more about our team here.
Have a Question?
If you have any questions or feedback about what you’ve read, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We respond to every email within 1 business day.